Harvey Dent: Faces #5: "Terror" Jun 22, 2017 15:19:04 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Jun 22, 2017 15:19:04 GMT -5
Issue #5: “Terror”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Two months ago, terrorists vowed to kill Bruce Wayne.
A video was posted on YouTube depicting a group of shadowy figures who claimed responsibility for the bombing of a WayneCom cell tower that had occurred days before, insisting they’d had enough of Wayne’s dealings and blunders, the worst of which was the explosion of a WayneTech chemical plant in Colorado last year which cost the lives of five hundred innocent people.
Bruce Wayne will be executed for his crimes.
This group. They called themselves The Harvest, and it made me think of the cornfields back in Miller’s County. I know full well what bad things can happen in a cornfield. Down by a river where they pump the irrigation and water the crop, I remember running into a cornfield in horror.
I know Bruce Wayne. Everyone knows of him, but I actually knew him as an honest-to-god friend. I’d gotten to know the famous billionaire Son of Gotham pretty well after he volunteered to sponsor my entire campaign for DA. We bonded over the tragedies we’d both survived when we were kids. We bonded over a desire to see justice in this city. And I know him as uncouth and unfiltered and with a bad case of ADHD, but I know beneath all the gorgeous tramps and the frivolous flaunting of cash that Bruce is a good-enough guy with the sense of morality for which the Wayne family is renowned.
Lousy snot-nosed heir to money he doesn’t deserve
Two months later and the terrorists have followed through on their word. I’m standing in Gotham Memorial Hospital and looking down at Bruce Wayne laid up unconscious, racing toward the ultimate finish line. Doctors are trying to figure out what’s wrong with him, but every test they run comes back negative. Inconclusive. The guy keeps slipping into cardiac arrest and the whitecoats keep zapping him back to stability. But they shake their heads, unknowing. He’s dying. The last Wayne in Gotham is going to die.
Bruce’s butler stands nearby and it looks like the old Brit’s holding back tears of his own. Alfred’s his name. I know it from all the overblown parties Bruce threw at the manor. The old guy has stood at his employer’s bedside since he was brought in. I’ve never seen a domestic with such loyalty in my life. As I understand it, he raised Bruce since his parents died.
Standing by the window is Bruce’s assistant, Corrie Desjardin, who weeps until another call comes in and she wipes away her tears and resumes addressing the media of Wayne’s condition.
Grace just happened to be on duty tonight. And she just happened to be assigned as Wayne’s personal attendant until morning. Four months pregnant, my pure delight of a fiancée still glows like an angel.
Grace is checking Wayne’s monitors, looking up at me and shaking her head. Alfred is hurt, terrified, holding the tears back. Stiff upper lip. Corrie drops her phone and clutches her mouth in grief. I just nod and I
Lousy rich-boy dies like the rest of us
Nighty-night, Richie Rich
I try and contain the anger inside me. These people. The Harvest.
I remember the cornfield.
Executioners. That’s what these people are
Executioners like this city needs
Kill kill kill kill ki-
“Councilman? A word…?”
I turn and I spot Jim Gordon peeking into the ICU suite and asking me for a private moment in the hall. I oblige him, and out here with him I smell the stale cigarette smoke permeated into his trench-coat. I see him limp a little, but he’s recovered well since his party with the Mad Hatter four months ago.
I ask him what I don’t need to ask.
“Any lead in the case yet, Jim?”
“Hard to say.” Jim removes his glasses to wipe the smudges on the lenses, telling me, “We took a look at the security footage of Wayne’s office when he first blacked out. On the tape, all we can see is Wayne meeting with a man named Lucius Fox who runs WayneTech. Discussing cutbacks in the pharmaceutical-research department.”
“So who’s this Fox guy? What’s his motive?”
“He has none, we looked into it. Nothing to gain if Wayne dies, and besides that he’s one of Wayne’s closest friends. Was friends with his old man Thomas before the famous murders twenty years ago. Was almost fired by William Earle before Bruce returned from his years abroad and saved his ass.”
“CEO of Wayne Enterprises.”
I think. I try to think. Clock ticking. Life in the balance. This is why I’m not a detective. My mind isn’t fit for it. My brain doesn’t operate in a very linear and timely and
Wayne’s gonna die Wayne’s gonna die Wayne’s gonna die
and focused manner.
Gordon continues, “Shortly after the meeting, after Fox left, Wayne received a letter from some mail clerk in the building. On the tape we can see Wayne immediately shredding the letter after reading it. Then he screamed for a while and blacked out soon after.”
“What was in the letter?”
“I got my people trying to go through the shredder in Wayne’s office, but it will take days to go through it all. Even longer, considering they’re all wearing the damn hazmat suits.”
“So the terrorists sent Wayne anthrax?”
“Anthrax or something worse. All I know is our lead at the moment is some random mail clerk who just started working in Wayne’s building a week ago,” Gordon says. “I’ve put an APB out for his arrest.”
“Arrest? Why not just shoot him? I’ll dance on his corpse with you.”
“What did you say?”
I shake my head, clenching my teeth, seeing the face behind my eyelids.
“I didn’t mean that, Jim… I, uh… What do we know about this guy?”
“The mail clerk?” Jim returns the glasses to his face, his unnerved frown holding a moment before it slackens. “Some lowlife by the name of Lonnie Machin. Just a kid really. We’re still looking into him.” And Jim sets his hand on my shoulder, saying, “I know Wayne is a friend of yours…We’re gonna get this guy, Harvey.”
I nod. I’m sure we’ll get him.
What I’m not sure of is whether or not Bruce will live.
Grace exits Bruce’s room shortly after Jimbo leaves to continue his investigation. I hug her and kiss her forehead, and she’s mortified. Less for Bruce Wayne and more for the children in her womb who are only five months away from coming into this horrible world of ours. I hold her tight and tell her I love her.
And as I feel her balmy breaths and tearing eyes dampen the chest of my suit, we hear Bruce in the suite next to us. Screaming sporadically in his sleep. Screaming louder. It sounds as if he’s in pain. Beeping monitors whip up a frenzy. It sounds as if Bruce is either in pain or he’s having the worst nightmare of his life.
Grace is crying again. I hold her tight and tell her I love her.
I hate to leave her, I hate to leave Bruce, but I have an appointment I cannot miss.
I have an appointment at Arkham Asylum.
We’ve established with the public that as DA I would inspect the treatment of Gotham’s most deranged criminals to ensure the safety of both the patients and the citizens of this city. Nonetheless, I still make my commute as discreet as possible. This is my sixth time coming to Arkham. Pulling up to the front gate, I put my leased Mazda in park and get out of the car. I look up to the sharpshooters in the towers. I keep my head low. I buzz to get in and a guard asks for my name through the intercom and I tell him it. I tell him I’m here to see Dr. Quinzel. I have an appointment.
The gates begin to open before me. And I get back in the car and I drive in and I’m on the winding lane now leading through the haunted grounds. I’m looking up the steep hill at the decades-old asylum of crumbling gargoyles and the black vines of dead ivy and I’m just as terrified of this place as I always am.
I’ve come through the hospital entrance. The guards know me by now, though they still ask for ID. My appointments here are off the record and no one is supposed to know about them. No one is supposed to know about my problems. So I endure the hellish ambiance and sounds like wailing spectres. The stench of wet brick and aged mortar and musty floorboards. I endure it all because I need help and I need it to be very hush.
“…You’ve read Moby Dick, haven’t you, Harvey?” Dr. Harleen Quinzel is asking me fifteen minutes later. Sitting in her office in the rotting old mansion made into the administration building. Telling me, “You know what a white whale can do to a person’s mind. You can’t let Falcone consume you.”
I hear the face. He howls.
I clench my teeth before I answer.
“Oh he’ll consume me, doctor. And he’ll consume the whole damn city like momma’s chicken penne. Last week, men working for The Roman were responsible for the murders of five of the few good GCPD men in the city when they busted their drug-trade. During the getaway, those men killed another two innocent bystanders who couldn’t get out of the way in time.”
“I heard that their getaway was not made from police.” The beauty frowns lightly, meekly, thoughtful. Saying, “I heard they were running from the Bat… He’s doing more harm than he realizes.”
“He caught those men, Dr. Quinzel.”
“Between the three men, the Bat broke a total of nineteen bones.”
“Good. He’s getting closer to being useful.”
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve only got two allies in this whole stinkin’ city to help me take down The Roman. Jimbo and the Batman. I’ve got the know-how. I’ve got spies all over the city watchin’ Falcone like a hawk. I have private-investigators monitoring his every movement. I know his routines, I know his hobbies, I know the location of every one of his fronts, hideouts, depots and warehouses.”
“If I wasn’t sure there were more victims than I knew about, I’d say I know where all his bodies are buried. I know everything there is to know about that ugly Italian… but I need a force to bring him down. Jimbo’s only got a few men left who aren’t crooked slime. That’s not a force, sweety-pie.”
“But this big bad Bat, he’s a force! The Bat will help me kill everyone who needs to die, and they all do! They all need to die!”
Quinzel gapes at me.
There’s fear in her, I can see it. Beautiful and terrified.
“…Harvey, your… your leg.”
I clench my teeth. Covering my eyes and seeing the face of wrath. I open my eyes and look to my leg, and I see I’ve been clawing into my left lower-thigh. Clawing away my trousers and some flesh and I see a million pinholes of blood growing larger into droplets and pooling. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know I was doing it.
But now it hurts.
I tell Quinzel I’m fine. And she clears her throat uncomfortably and nods, glancing over at her computer when she hears an email arrive in her inbox. It’s a good little while before she speaks up again just to kill the silence. Saying, “I heard, uh… I heard about Bruce Wayne.”
I breathe out in shame.
I remember the cornfields back home.
When I was eleven years old, I ran through a cornfield. The coin had come up heads. Fate made its choice, and I ran when Henry was gone and I was alone. I ran from the river and I ran through the cornfields in horror. With all the tears and the stalks all around me, I wasn’t watching where I was going. I tripped over a dune. I fell into the dirt. I looked up at a scarecrow in horror.
Quinzel tells me, “I heard Bruce Wayne died today.”
All I can tell her is, “That’s not been confirmed yet.”
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